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Axios Aug 31
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How Houston's city planning made it more vulnerable to Harvey

Gregory Bull / AP

Peter Coy and Christopher Flavella write in Bloomberg Businessweek's cover story: "Harvey Wasn't Just Bad Weather. It Was Bad City Planning ... Houston exulted in sprawling, free-form growth, but laissez-faire isn't the way to prepare for natural catastrophes."

  • "No city could have with-stood Harvey without serious harm, but Houston made itself more vulnerable than necessary."
  • "Paving over the saw-grass prairie reduced the ground's capacity to absorb rainfall. Flood-control reservoirs were too small. Building codes were inadequate. Roads became rivers, so while hospitals were open, it was almost impossible to reach them by car."
  • "Sprawling Houston is a can-do city whose attitude is grow first, ask questions later. It's the only major U.S. city without a zoning code saying what types of buildings can go where, so skyscrapers sometimes sprout next to split-levels. Voters have repeatedly opposed enacting a zoning law."